Coronavirus Roundup: Court Temporarily Blocks OSHA Vaccine Rule, Defense Ships Vaccines for Military Children Overseas
Here’s today’s list of news updates and stories you may have missed.
The Defense Logistics Agency said on Friday it’s packaging and shipping Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines overseas for children of Defense Department personnel who are ages 5 to 11, now that they are eligible. “Orders for 30,900 doses have already been placed by military treatment facilities in the U.S. European, Central and Indo-Pacific Commands,” said a press release. “The vaccines are being packed and shipped from DLA Distribution Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, to 18 locations that have been processing vaccines since the agency began distributing them for older populations in December.” Here are some of the other recent headlines you might have missed.
On Saturday, a federal appeals court temporarily blocked the Biden administration's vaccine rule for private businesses, which applies to the U.S. Postal Service, The Wall Street Journal reported. This is one of the many legal challenges to the rule. “The Fifth Circuit is one of the nation’s most conservative appeals courts. The three judges who issued Saturday’s ruling were appointed by Republican presidents,” said the report. “Seema Nanda, the Labor Department’s top legal adviser, said the administration was confident in its authority to issue the standard and was fully prepared to defend it in court.”
Ron Klain, White House chief of staff, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, citing other recent cases: “I'm quite confident that when this finally gets fully adjudicated, not just a temporary order, the validity of this requirement will be upheld.” He said he thinks the case will be litigated way before January 3 and for now, “the effectiveness of that vaccine requirement is frozen.”
Thousands of federal employees have requested religious exemptions for the vaccine mandate, The Washington Post reported on Sunday. “The process could take months for officials designated at each agency, leaving anxious employees in limbo and delaying implementation of a mandate Biden announced in September as a model for employers nationwide,” said the report.
The National Institutes of Health is having a roundtable next month to discuss the ethics of vaccine mandates, which “was set up after a senior infectious-disease researcher at the institute pushed back against broadening discussion of mandates this summer and requested an agency ethics review,” The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.
The U.S. Agency for International Development is launching a new unit focused on infectious disease unit outbreaks, “after receiving countless cries for help from countries in crisis during this pandemic,” Samantha Power, USAID administrator, announced last week.
The defense contracting community has some concerns about the vaccine mandate for federal contractors, Roll Call reported on Friday. “Although defense contractors were relieved to hear of the administration’s more relaxed approach to the mandate, they are still fretting about how to implement it, even after several meetings with administration officials,” said the report. “The foremost concern [for those] with ties to the defense industry is what happens when, as a result of a loss of personnel who refuse to be vaccinated, a company is unable to meet cost and schedule requirements in a contract.”
The Health and Human Services Department and its sub-agencies should include stakeholder perspectives in its after-action review of vaccine distribution, the Government Accountability Office said in a recent report. State and local health officials and others said that the federal programs for vaccine distribution “helped higher-risk populations access COVID-19 vaccination,” but “also cited challenges, such as initially having limited or no information on the doses federal programs were sending to pharmacies and health centers in their communities,” said the report. HHS officials plan to conduct after action reviews, but did not have such plans for them at the moment.
Upcoming: White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg will give a briefing at 1 p.m.
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